Iran: Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi

So initially when I read this I wasn’t going to review it on here because its a graphic novel and I genuinely haven’t a clue as to how one goes about reviewing graphic novels in written form. However, I am counting Iran as a country I’ve read from this year so I feel I owe you a review.

So I picked up Embroideries having really enjoyed Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novel Persepolis and feeling really excited that she had another published work. Embroideries deals with a topic that is a little bit out of my comfort zone and that is women gossiping about their sex lives. As an asexual-spectrum person quite naturally this is not the type embroideries
of gossip I tend to engage in or the type of book that I’m drawn to. However, if Satrapi has a graphic novel I haven’t read I’m going to give it a bash, especially because I figured getting a glimpse into the real lives of Iranian women and the things they gossip about would be really enlightening and expose me to an aspect of Iranian life that Persepolis didn’t really explore.

I needn’t have been so nervous because I did really enjoy it. The gossip was funny and the different stories that were being told were amusing and engaging. The book is really short but I do think that it was long enough to manage to achieve it’s aim, that of giving the reader a quick glimpse into the private lives of Iranian women and exposing us to themes and topics that we don’t normally see discussed in relation to Middle Eastern women in the Western narrative. I liked how this graphic novel subverts that narrative that we get of Muslim women and Muslim women in the Middle East as oppressed. I like how we weren’t presented with a one-dimensional picture of any of the women. This glimpse, brief though it was, felt real and felt like it was enough.

artThe art wasn’t exactly to my taste. I had figured that would be the case going into this graphic novel though based on Satrapi’s art in Persepolis. All of the art is black and white. I’m generally a person who goes in for colourful graphic novels and comic books. I love the art in The Wicked and the Divine even if the story does nothing for me. I also love the artwork in Descender which is more muted. When I’m just being presented with black and white art I want it to be detailed, like the artwork in blankets. Satrapi doesn’t go in for beautiful detailed black and white artwork however. I struggle to describe what exactly her artwork is but it isn’t really my thing. I also found myself struggling to distinguish between the women although I don’t think that’s a fault with the art, it was more that I was tired when I read it. What I was glad to see however, was that the text size was far larger than Persepolis which I struggled with for that very reason and these days with my persistent visual snow might not be able to even read at all.

Overall this was a funny, insightful glimpse into the lives of gossiping Iranian ladies and while the art isn’t really to my taste I did enjoy it.

Rating 3.5 stars


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